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5 Ways To Support Veterans

by Vinay Kumar
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War is a heavy burden – one that is borne bravely by our veterans. While we celebrate Veteran’s Day to commemorate our soldiers’ work to protect us and uphold justice worldwide, there is much more we can do to help our veterans. 

The end of active duty leaves former servicemembers with a host of problems. Unemployment due to lack of transferable skills, undiagnosed diseases, and a high incidence of mental difficulties, such as P.T.S.D., plague even the most dedicated former soldiers. For instance, PubMed identified an average P.T.S.D. Rate of 17.9% in a recent analysis of veterans’ health studies. Combined with nearly 400,000 unemployed veterans as of 2021 (as per Bureau of Labor Statistics reports) and many homeless or addicted to substances, it is clear that they face an uphill battle. 

Here are some things you can do to make a positive impact and support our veterans:

1. Donate To Veteran Health Causes

Several organizations seek to relieve veterans struggling with various illnesses, such as mental health disorders, physical disabilities, and chronic conditions such as mesothelioma. Some, like Disabled American Veterans (D.A.V.) and Wounded Warriors, help veterans get access to counseling and rehabilitation and connect them with job opportunities. 

Other forms of servicemember assistance also include legal aid to guide them to file claims and empathetic initiatives that help them make new friends and build communities. Combined, these two organizations serve over 2 million veterans without receiving any money from the military or the government. This self-reliance makes the need for donations even more pressing for them. 

2. Support Veteran Families Ones

Veterans’ families and loved ones undergo significant trauma and need support. We can significantly serve their needs by supporting causes and organizations that stand by them when tough times come. For instance, the Fisher House Foundation provides veteran and their families with lodgings. At the same time, they wait for their loved ones to receive care at V.A. hospitals or other facilities. It has helped over 300,000 veterans over the last three decades. In addition, it makes it easier for families to support veterans in their healing. 

Veterans who have lost their lives in the line of duty leave behind families who suffer in silence and deserve our support. Organizations like the Snowball Express and The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation do a lot of good, providing scholarships to children of fallen service members, supporting spouses left behind, and providing social support and mentorship. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) also helps families of service members who lose their lives cope with their grief. It was founded in 1994 and has helped 71,000 families and caregivers come to terms with their situation and rekindle their sense of meaning and purpose. 

3. Help Service members Feel Cared For

Active duty can be an incredibly isolating experience. However, by investing in the right kinds of activities and organizations, you can ease the strain veterans face in far-off locations, away from sources of support. Organizations like Hero Care Packages and Operation Gratitude allow everyday folks like yourself to support the emotional well-being of veterans and service members by sending them mementos. These gifts can include anywhere from handwritten letters and postcards to handmade crafts. They can help to show your appreciation for them. 

You can also volunteer at U.S.O. Operation Phone Home or Operation Write Home to help active-duty service members feel connected and valued. Phone Home helps connect service members with loved ones back home. It is a unique blessing for those living in remote or rural areas. Write home delivers blank, ready-to-send postcards to service members so they can write back home. U.S.O. also reports sending an average of 25 letters of encouragement to service members from regular civilians.

4. Combat Veteran Homelessness

Homelessness is a severe problem faced by many veterans, with estimates suggesting that up to 4% of all homeless people in the U.S. are former service members. While such a statistic seems daunting and depressing at first, it also tells us that there are ample opportunities for you to jump in and contribute. 

Firstly, there is the issue of supporting homeless veterans who cannot secure housing for many compounding factors. Veterans on the streets face unique challenges that need support without hurting their pride or self-esteem. This need for sensitivity is why organizations like Homeless Veterans Services, Support Homeless Vets Inc., and The Veterans Group do so much good work in the communities they serve. You can donate money, hygiene or other personal use, and kitchen items, which are then made available to veterans in need. These donations can do wonders, especially in harsh winters, when homeless veterans risk falling prey to the elements. Additionally, Stand Down events, run by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, provide a centralized location where homeless veterans can receive warm meals, shelter, and medical aid.

Ultimately, nothing impacts homelessness more positively than homes where veterans and their loved ones can begin their lives anew. However, as many veterans have been severely injured or faced amputations in the line of duty, these homes need to be highly accessible. Organizations such as Homes For Our Troops, Operation Finally Home, R.I.S.E., and Building Homes For Heroes work tirelessly to meet this demand. Not only do their homes have the necessary accommodations injured veterans need to live safely and with dignity, but they are also affordable and stable in the face of housing market fluctuations. 

5. Provide Job Opportunities for Veterans

Unemployment among veterans, particularly younger ones (aged 18 to 24), continues to be a cause of concern in recent years. According to estimates, there were almost 20,000 unemployed young veterans in 2021 alone. Many factors contribute to this grim picture. First, the hiring culture in the U.S. has changed from where small businesses would prefer hiring veterans to now, where it is no longer culturally significant. Employers are also interested in veterans demonstrating civilian work experience and find it hard to gauge how the skills, attitudes, and discipline veterans learned in the military can be an asset to their business. 

You can support veterans looking to get hired in many ways. First, on a personal level, always be on the lookout in your circles for people who may benefit from hiring a veteran. You can also volunteer for organizations such as Hire Heroes U.S.A. to match jobs with veteran resumes right from your home. In addition, VetCentral, Robert Half, and dozens of other organizations provide employment resources for veterans that can make all the difference in their job search. 

Final Thoughts

Service members are the backbone of our communities, helping to keep our society free and just. However, they run into several problems as they leave active service. You can do good by stepping in and offering help. 

Whether you support veteran health causes, provide for their loved ones, help them find jobs or homes, or make them feel remembered and valued, take the first step today.

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